• U.S.

GREAT BRITAIN: Caruso’s Successor

2 minute read

Hollywood’s Darryl Zanuck once kept blonde, blowzy Gracie Fields under contract for eight months while he tried expensively to make something out of her that the U. S. would laugh at. But millions of Britons including the Royal Family find her so amusing that one of her shows, Mr. Tower of London, had a continuous run in England of seven years (1918-25). Sheer animal vulgarity, including flea-scratching and grimaces, makes her a frantic success in British music halls. So while King George receives only some $550,000 per year, chiefly for being dignified, Miss Fields last year received a reputed $750,000 for being both undignified and vulgar. Four years ago, when the Manchester Guardian announced that the 4,000,000th Gracie Fields phonograph record had just been pressed, it definitively opined, “The only singer who may have exceeded Gracie Fields’ number was Caruso, but in his time figures were not carefully kept.”

Last week Miss Fields (alias Mrs. Archie Selinger) could well afford the fancy gown and long kid gloves in which she alighted from her limousine at Buckingham Palace. The most famed of 187 persons who had come to receive from the hand of George VI the stars, orders and ribbons awarded in the New Year’s Honors (TIME, Jan. 10), she curtsied demurely while the King-Emperor pinned the rose-colored ribbon and the badge of a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

London’s Laborite Daily Herald said, that of all last week’s royal awards, that to Miss Fields will give His Majesty’s subjects “the widest, simplest pleasure.”

The Liberal News Chronicle hailed “good old Gracie . . . universal pleasure.” Pontificated the august, conservative Times: “Even the formal appellation of Grace, ‘Mrs. Selinger, C. B. E.’ cannot hide the boundless fame of Gracie Fields.”

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